“Much like the candidate he backed to run the Chicago Police Department, Mayor Brandon Johnson’s pick to run Chicago’s Department of Planning & Development signals that Johnson — whose inner circle largely consists of passionate progressives long on conviction but short on political experience — is willing to add pragmatic people to his team.
“Ciere Boatright, like new police Superintendent Larry Snelling, takes over the Planning Department Nov. 20 with deep, practical experience in the field. Englewood native Snelling was, to many observers, a reassuring choice as Chicago’s top cop, having come up through the ranks of the department while building a reputation as a level-headed problem-solver and cool communicator. Boatright — whose selection to run the Planning Department, a key hub for business interests throughout the city, was announced Oct. 25 — will bring similarly real-world know-how to the role.
“As Crain’s Danny Ecker reports, Boatright has been vice president of real estate and community development at Chicago-based CRG, the real estate development and investment arm of construction conglomerate Clayco. Prior to joining CRG in 2021, the Grand Crossing native and 2020 Crain’s 40 Under 40 honoree spent eight years with Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives, the community developer that has led a series of major projects revitalizing the Pullman neighborhood on the city’s Far South Side.
“Assuming Boatright’s nomination is approved by the City Council, Johnson is likely to find his new planning chief will be well received by the local real estate community, according to Crain’s reporting. Many have advocated for Johnson to appoint someone to the role with local real estate experience who can shepherd along projects — and the jobs that they create — more efficiently than was done under Johnson’s predecessor, Lori Lightfoot.
“Developers back then often lamented that the department was too slow to review and approve projects under Maurice Cox, an architect by trade who restructured and brought several new people into key department roles. Coming as Boatright does from the real estate development world, there is reason to hope the Johnson Planning Department will be more responsive to the industry’s needs than the Lightfoot team was.
“Boatright takes over a department of 172 people facing challenges on multiple fronts, including the revitalization of downtown, the response to the migrant crisis, and the ongoing efforts to spur economic development in historically disinvested communities on the South and West sides. So there is important work ahead and an urgent need for proficient leadership to take the reins. (Crain’s Editorial Board, 10/30/23)
Mayor Johnson names real estate pro Ciere Boatright to lead planning department; With a history of supporting neighborhood improvement, Boatright will take on the task of backing downtown development while directing dollars toward the South and West sides, David Roeder and Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun-Times, 10/25/23